Core employability skills are increasingly relevant for academia, even if not made explicit in the job description.
For example, commercial awareness is vital to understanding the position of an academic department and its development opportunities amidst economic and political change affecting funding streams.
Leadership, management and strategic thinking skills are critical to departments preparing submissions for the Research or Teaching Excellence Frameworks (REF and TEF), the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research and teaching respectively, and of allocating funds accordingly.
For further insight, see our section on Pursuing Academia in What’s next for you?
Developing skills for an academic career
The organisation Vitae exists to support the development of researchers across all sectors. You have access to their resources through Oxford's membership. Vitae’s ‘Researcher development Framework’ (RDF) sets out in detail the skills required for and gained through research (and broader academic) endeavours; it can be used as a tool for bench-marking your current level in each of the 63 identified skills and familiarising yourself with what will be expected in more senior academic roles.
Perhaps more usefully, you can assess your skill development using any of Vitae's set of specific lenses on the RDF, which focus on leadership, knowledge exchange, public engagement, teaching, intrapreneurship, researcher mobility or employability beyond academia.
Talking to current postdocs and visiting other research groups or labs will help you gain insights into relevant skill-sets for your area and those relating to institutional priorities. Ask your supervisor and others in your department for suggestions as to who to talk to. Consider showing them a draft CV and ask them to comment on how effectively you are demonstrating your skills.